When optimism seems to be the hardest word!

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It’s not just the simple glass half full vs. glass half empty”, said personal development consultant Martin Seligman PhD., it rather consists of the way you think of setbacks and the way you think about victories. When the optimistic person has a setback, s/he believes it’s temporary, “I can change it, and it’s just this one situation”. And when the pessimistic person has a setback, s/he believes it’s going to last forever, “it’s going to undermine everything I do”. Conversely, when a victory occurs, when s/he wins, when the good thing really happens, the optimistic person believes it’s going to last forever, “I did it, and it’s going to help me in every circumstance”. The pessimistic person shucks victory off, “I did not do it, it’s just this one situation, and it’s just going to help me in this one domain I’m in.


Now you may ask: What’s the role of optimism when it comes to experiencing setbacks in personal relationships, media, schoolyard, or workplace?


And so I ask you: Who bounces back from a setback?


The answer seems to be that the optimistic and resilient person thinks differently about the setbacks than the pessimistic and non-resilient person. The optimistic and resilient person says: “I can change it, it’s just this one temporary defeat and it’s going away quickly”.


The pessimistic and non-resilient person, the one who doesn’t bounce back from setbacks says: “It’s going to last forever; it’s going to undermine everything I do”.


What pessimism does to us?


In one of my life coaching sessions, my lady client replied to my question “Why do you want to quit your job? with “As long as he is my boss, I will never get promoted! The way he treats me shows that I will never go farther from here and I will never progress in my career”!


Another lady said: “Who would want to marry a divorced woman with a kid like me?”


In a clear reference to the fact that both ladies who saw through the “reality” were not optimistic at all…


Hence, we should stop at the phrase “reality is not helping me to be optimistic” which represents a major distortion in the manner of thinking leading to a frightening pattern which has become a commonplace, without the slightest thought of that way of thinking itself which produces only more fear, worry, frustration and more warp thinking! This weakens our ability to face setbacks when they come like they always do! Let me calmly explain what I mean and how optimism is largely fatally misinterpreted.


Optimism defined:


Optimism is one of the most intelligent human emotions, a sense of “entrepreneur” and initiative not a reaction, and it simply means that optimism is the higher psychological state of mind that always precedes the new reality we wish to have.


So, what we call “reality”, is In fact happened because of preconceived ideas and feelings which are “consciously and unconsciously” shape our actions which directly cause the new reality. Tomorrow’s reality is today’s ideas, feelings and actions. So how can shape tomorrow’s reality?


The only beginning is to change the way we think and sense of what goes on around us and without losing sight of it must work hard and faithfully armed with the powerful fuel called “optimism.”


But if our thoughts, feelings and therefore our actions are a reaction or a reflection of what we see as “reality”, in this case allow me ask you a simple question with no offense: What is the savvy or intelligence in that? Any person whose intelligence is a bit higher than that of a frog will react the same way; bad incidents or “reality” so the reaction is pessimism, on the other side: the good reality calls for optimism, so the reaction without the slightest effort is to be optimistic. Huh?


It is time to understand that it’s “us” who shape our future, and that the so-called “reality” will not change as long as we adhere to this way of reaction. Our wrong understanding of the meaning of this genius emotion and behavior called “Optimism” which I believe is one of the most powerful weapons of human beings! And its legitimate father is faith. Self-belief and its ability derived from faith in God and his ability to help those who want to help themselves.


Optimism then becomes a beacon of light in the darkest times, and the more intensified the dark, the more we are in need to adhere to it reflected in our thoughts, feelings and actions.


It is not coincidental at all that this is the order of words in this cosmic law, and I mean that word, yes it is a law like that of gravity! This law, stated by the words of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in a miraculous few words “Be optimistic about the good, it manifests “ and in the Bible there is “As you sow, so shall you reap”.


Sweet pain:


Now that we understand the meaning of optimism and how it’s a proactive feeling and not a reaction, how should we perceive what is happening now and how can we explain this painful reality, especially after the Egyptian Revolution?


Once we surrender to the illusion of the power of what we call “reality, we miss the point that what Egypt is passing through now is that period following a dangerous surgery. Is there a hit of a scalpel deeper than that occurred in our country – brilliantly by the hands of its youth – than what happened in January 25, 2011?


So, why can’t we give enough and ‘fair’ time for Egypt to recover?


It’s more worthy of us now to stop pessimistic analysis and observe reality with the expert’s eye that is alarming a disaster. We must begin to change our way of thinking and our feelings to the realization that what we are going through now is what we might call the pains of healing! And those are everything we all complain about now: threatened economy, absence of security, Media wobbling, unsatisfactory trials, violence in the streets… etc.


All what we must do, is look ahead with hope and optimism and jump to the future to see it as we want it to become and as we all aspire. Then return to the present day and “work” diligently and faithfully to make that vision of the future our new reality.


Tomorrow is made in the now!


That’s how I look at every pain we suffer from now and smile! I suffer exactly the same way everyone else is suffering from the exact same pains yet with a “very wise” difference; I tell myself: those are “sweet pains”!


Because right after that comes full recovery.


Oh, I forgot to tell you that after coaching the ladies I mentioned earlier on how to develop the deep feeling of optimism in just two months, that particular boss she was complaining about promoted her! The second lady was remarried last week.


Optimism is a tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation.


Optimism is the belief that the universe is improving and that good will ultimately triumph over evil.


Optimism is the propensity to look at the bright side of any situation and expect the best possible outcome from any series of events. People who feel optimism live their lives expecting positive outcomes and events.


Optimism is powerfully motivational; optimism is one of the cornerstones of success.


Tomorrow’s reality is today’s ideas, feelings and actions.



About Yasser Fathy:


A personal and executive development coach, trainer, author, public speaker and Emotional Intelligence consultant. He is the innovator of The 6 Circles™ A Breakthrough Model for Personal Change and Development.


For more information please check his links and e-mail below:





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